Today I continue my study of the rape of Tamar. However, before I continue this study, it may be necessary to provide an introduction to David’s family, since the rape of Tamar gives birth to several events that will have a profound impact on the future of the house of David.
Very few Christians have a good understanding of the complicated connections between David, his wives and concubines and the many children that were part of David’s family. This introduction will list David’s wives by name as well as the names of his sons. Although David had many daughters, only one name is listed. The genealogies of David appear in three different places in the Hebrew Bible: 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 5:13-16; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9; 1 Chronicles 14:3-7.
The Old Testament says that David had several wives:
Michal was the second daughter of King Saul (1 Samuel 14:49). David gained the right to marry Michal by paying the bridal price Saul had requested. Later on, Saul gave Michal to another man (1 Samuel 25:44). When David became king, he demanded that Michal be returned to him. Michal did not give children to David.
Ahinoam was a woman from Jezreel, a village located in south Judah (1 Samuel 25:43). David married Ahinoam during his days as a fugitive from Saul. When David found refuge with the Philistines, Ahinoam came to Gath with David. Ahinoam was the mother of Amnon, David’s oldest son (2 Samuel 3:2).
Abigail was the wife of Nabal, a rich man from Carmel who refused to help David by providing food for David and his men. After Nabal died, David married Abigail (1 Samuel 25:39-42). David married Abigail shortly after marrying Ahinoam. Abigail was the mother of Chileab (2 Samuel 3:3). His name also appears as Daniel in 1 Chronicles 3:1.
Maacah was the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3). David’s marriage with Maacah was a political arrangement to cement an alliance with the Geshurites. Maacah was the mother of Tamar and Absalom.
Nothing is known about Haggith. Haggith was the mother of Adonijah (2 Samuel 3:4). Her son was born in Hebron, the place where David was crowned as king of Judah.
Nothing is known about Abital. She was the mother of Shephatiah (2 Samuel 3:4), another of David’s son who was born in Hebron.
Eglah was the mother of Ithream (2 Samuel 3:5). Nothing is known about Eglah or her son Ithream.
Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam, the son of Ahitophel. Ahitophel was one of David’s advisors (2 Samuel 13:3). After Uriah died at the command of David, David married Bathsheba. Their first child died shortly after his birth. Bathsheba was the mother of their second son, Solomon and three others.
9. David’s Other Wives
After the death of a king, it was customary for the new king to take possession of his predecessor’s wives. According to 2 Samuel 12:8, David took possession of Saul’s harem in order to legitimize his kingdom: “Nathan said to David, . . . Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom” (2 Samuel 12:7-8).
10. David’s Concubines
After David conquered Jerusalem, he took several women from Jerusalem as concubines: “In Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, David took more concubines and wives” (2 Samuel 5:13).
It is possible that these wives and concubines were political marriages designed to strengthen David’s political alliances with rich and powerful families of the Canaanites who lived in Jerusalem. The concubines were secondary wives and their children probably did not share the same rights of inheritance as the other children of David.
In his old age David took Abishag as his nursemaid. However, the biblical text says that David did not have sexual relations with her (1 Kings 1:1-4).
Amnon was David’s firstborn son by his wife Ahinoam. Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar and was killed by Absalom.
Chileab was the son of David and Abigail. He probably died at an early age because he is never listed among David’s sons who vied for the throne. His name appears as Daniel in 1 Chronicles 3:1
Absalom was the son of David and Maacah. He was the brother of Tamar, David’s daughter who was raped by Amnon. He killed Amnon for raping his sister.
Adonijah was the son of David and Haggith. After the death of Amnon and Absalom, Adonijah was the oldest living son of David. For this reason, most people believed that he would become the next king after David’s death.
Shephatiah was the son of David and Abital. Nothing is known about him or about his mother.
Ithream was the son of David and Eglah. Nothing is known about Ithream or his mother.
The Sons of Bathsheba
7. Shammua (or Shimea)
According to 1 Chronicles 3:5, Bathsheba had four sons, with Solomon listed as number 4: “These were born to [David] in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon, four by Bath-shua.”
Although Solomon is listed as the fourth son of Bathsheba, he was Bathsheba’s second-born son, since her firstborn son died soon after he was born.
David’s Sons Born in Jerusalem
These nine sons of David were probably born in Jerusalem to his new wives and concubines. Their names are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:5-9. However, the writer of the book of Chronicles does not provide the names of their mothers.
Tamar was the daughter of David and his wife Maacah. Tamar was the sister of Absalom. She was raped by her half-brother Amnon.
21. Other Daughters
After David came from Hebron and conquered Jerusalem, “David took more concubines and wives; and more sons and daughters were born to David” (2 Samuel 5:13).
None of David’s other daughters are mentioned by name in the Old Testament. In general, women were not mentioned in the genealogical records. When they are mentioned, it is because they have achieved either a prominent position in society or because of a special event related to them. The only daughter of David that is mentioned in the genealogies of David is Tamar (1 Chronicles 3:9) because of what happened to her and Amnon.
David had 19 sons. Six of them were born in Hebron and 13 were born in Jerusalem. David also was the father of many daughters, but only Tamar is mentioned by name in the Hebrew Bible.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary